York steps out

Providing students with international employment opportunities and access to world-renowned writers were the themes of two recent events organized by the York University Foundation, the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

On Sept. 22, a small group of long-time Atkinson donors attended the first Canadian Writers in Person (CWP) reading series event of 2005-2006. Prior to the reading, the guests enjoyed a dinner in the Chancellor’s Lounge of the Underground Restaurant, along with featured author and speaker Miriam Toews,  students and faculty members.

author with Canadian University WomenRight: Miriam Toews (left), Rhonda Lenton, Catherine Sbrolla and Eleanor Maclean of the Canadian Federation of University Women

“This event is an opportunity to thank some of our donors and friends for their kind support of Atkinson,” said Rhonda Lenton, dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. “It’s lovely to be able to show our donors what we can actually do as a result of their generosity.”

Those at the event have helped to enrich Atkinson in many ways. For example, since 1993, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) of Etobicoke has provided Atkinson with funding for an award for female students.

“Our club is over 50 years old,” said Catherine Sbrolla, awards convener for the CFUW. “The status of women has come a long way in that time. But there are still a lot of women that need help.”

candian university womenLeft: Katrina Angel, liaison officer, Faculty of Science & Engineering (left); Karen Gordon, chief development officer, York University Foundation; alumna Janina Milisiewicz

Janina Milisiewicz studied urban planning at York, graduating from Atkinson in 1974. She has provided funding to the Faculty’s areas of greatest need since 1986. “You just give back,” she said

Retired faculty member Magarita Feliciano has also given back to York, through faculty and staff campaigns. “Students need exposure to good programs and teachers,” she said. “The CWP course is a good example of this. Literature brings in dimensions of beauty and harmony without which we wouldn’t be able to thrive as human beings.”

Toews said she looked forward to students’ questions about her work and appreciated the fact that such a course existed in a university setting.  (For more on the first reading of the 2005-2006 Canadian Writers in Person series, see the Oct. 14 issue of YFile.)

Right: ToewsMiriam Toews

“Bringing writers to universities is a natural fit,” she said. “Writers often do readings for a sort of well-heeled, book-buying public and that’s great but it’s also so important for writers to come to a university to engage with young people who are learning. For me, this is a thrilling experience.”

The CWP course and reading series was launched in 1999 as a means of introducing students, faculty and the external community to internationally renowned writers. Professor John Unrau both conceived of the course and worked determinedly each year to raise the necessary funds for it to thrive. Since the course’s inception, approximately 65 authors have participated, and the course has grown from 50 to 100 students.

Course director Gail Vanstone told guests, “Canadian Writers in Person is one of York’s success stories, due in large measure to public and private financial support that enables us to attract some of Canada’s best writers to the classroom, benefiting students and the community.”

On Sept.15, at Toronto’s Harbour Castle Westin Hotel, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global information technology services firm, celebrated its 25th anniversary with a customer appreciation event. The firm took the occasion to announce a newly established agreement with York University, which will ultimately advance students’ technology skill-set and create jobs for Canadian graduates.

As part of the TCS-York University alliance, York students will gain exposure to TCS’ mature processes, technologies and tools already in place. Not only will York students have the opportunity for hands-on participation in current TCS projects, but top York students and TCS researchers will also be able to share knowledge, skills and experiences. The first group of students will begin working in TCS offices around the world in the summer of 2006.

Tata officials with Dr. MarsdenRight: Surya Kant (left), president, TCS North America; TCS Canada’s director of strategic relations, Mukesh Gupta; and Lorna R. Marsden, York president  and vice-chancellor

Among those attending the event were  Lorna R. Marsden, president and vice-chancellor of York University, Sheila Embleton, vice-president academic, Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation, and Dezsö J. Horváth, dean of the Schulich School of Business.

“York University is very proud to be working with TCS, a global technology leader, in establishing this program. This relationship will give our students the advantage of an extraordinary international learning experience — one that will help shape tomorrow’s global leaders,” Marsden said, presenting TCS Canada’s Director of Strategic Relations, Mukesh Gupta, with a gift on behalf of the University.

“TCS is very excited to be working with York University,” said Gupta. “Our goal is to help Canadian students to return to their community with an enhanced skill set, ultimately allowing them to pass on their new knowledge to others.”

This article was submitted YFile by Carrie Brodi, senior communications officer, York University Foundation.